“Give me all yo money, bitch. That’s what he said. And…and I did. He…he had that gun aimed at my head, detective. I was so scared. I’m sixteen, I shouldn’t be having guns aimed at my head! I should be out with my friends partying and having fun. Not this.” She sobbed into her hands. The poor teenage girl was visibly shaking ever since Detective Grant Williams arrived on scene. This wasn’t the first distraught cashier he had encountered. In fact, this was the fifth in the last month, and the spree hadn’t given Grant any breathing room.
“Ma’am, I know it’s hard, but could you tell me anything more about the man? How tall was he? Did you get a look at his face? Can you describe his accent?”
Her head popped up. “I…I think I know him.”
Grant’s heart began to race. Well, this was a first. All Grant had to go on for the other four liquor stores and gas stations was that he might have been black, he might have been Mexican, he might have had an accent, he was six foot, he was maybe 5’6”. There hadn’t been any good video footage, and Grant wouldn’t have anything until forensics went over the surveillance footage from this gas station back at the police department. He would have to wait. Well, maybe he didn’t have to. Grant may have just stumbled upon his first lead in the case.
“I’m listening,” he said when it looked as if Alice Rice wouldn’t say the name. “Who do you think this guy was?”
“Elijah…Elijah, um,…” Alice looked as if she was going to burst back into tears.
“Take your time, ma’am.”
“He was in my brother’s class. Andy always spoke of this kid, you know. He was in and out of juvie and all that. Andy and him even got into some fights. I know his name, I do, I just…” she sobbed again.
Grant arched a brow. Elijah, now why did that name ring a bell? “Elijah Ryder?” he assumed and asked Alice. It was a long shot, but Grant went with it anyway.
Her eyes widen and she shook her head hard. “Yes, yes. That’s the name. He was a complete asshole to my brother.”
“And you are sure it was him?”
Alice nodded and wiped her tears. “I know his voice. I knew it was him when he aimed that stupid gun at my head. He didn’t know me, but…he probably wouldn’t. I’m sorry, I just…can I please go home now?”
Grant waved over an officer. “Certainly. You’ve been a great help, Alice. We’ll call you if we need anything else from you. We may ask you to come in to positively ID the suspect once we arrest him.”
“Okay.” She stood and the officer escorted her out of the gas station. Grant took another glance around the small station and headed back to the the police department to write his report and head home.
Grant never got the chance to head home. He was tired. No, he was more than that, he was exhausted from the all-nighter he just pulled after an eight hour shift. Crime doesn’t stop though and Grant had been getting very little sleep since the string of armed robberies started. Gant looked to the photo of him and his daughter on his desk just as his phone chirped. He didn’t have to guess who was calling him. Sam was probably wondering why he never made it home.
“Dad, if you’re not going to come home, at least tell me next time? Your dinner is sitting cold, again, in the microwave.” Sammy was just barely sixteen—the same as his most current witness. She had all the best qualities of Maria, and only her temper came from Grant.
He sighed. “I meant to go home, sweetheart. I did. There was another robbery.”
“Yeah. Look, I’ll definitely be coming home tonight. I promise. Maybe we could do a movie or something? Did you get that essay turned in?” Grant listened and steered the subject to something more suitable for a sixteen year old girl—and that was making her talk about herself. And when she went on about her project, he listened and gave the right responses when needed even though he zoned out within seconds of her answer.
That was when the forensics specialist came through the door and called out his name. Grant held up a finger. “Hun, Sam, I got to go. I’ll talk to you tonight. Remember to pick out a movie.”
Grant groaned. He knew he was walking right into the chick-flick trap, but he answered her anyway. “Yeah, any movie. I gotta go. Love you.”
“Bye Daddy. Be safe. Love you!”
Grant hung up and rushed to Necinni. “You got something?”
Necinni pulled up the video surveillance of the store from the night before on his tablet. “It’s the best video we’ve gotten in this case. The owner put a hidden camera in one of the wall lights about a week ago. He was worried this would happened. It panned out for us.”
Grant watched the video and inwardly celebrated as the boy he definitely knew was Elijah Ryder came storming into the gas station branding a gun in hand. He watched as poor Alice hand over everything in the register. Elijah bolted soon after the exchange. At least he hadn’t escalated to murder…yet.
Grant patted Necinni on the shoulder. “Great work, man. I’ll go put out an APB on Elijah Ryder. Send me the video so I can send it to the DA and get our arrest warrant.”
“You got it.”
It took a long three days, but Grant finally got the warrant and the APB had been pushed out. He headed for West Myshuno where Elijah resided with his mother and his younger sibling. This wouldn’t be Grant’s first time arresting Elijah. In fact, Grant had been the arresting officer for at least three of Elijah’s past convictions when he was juvenile. During Elijah’s teen years, he had been in and out of the juvenile detention center so much that the station had a long-standing pool running on how long it would take for Ryder to wind up into legal trouble as an adult. Turns out, it didn’t take more than a year.
Grant pulled up to the brownstone apartments and glanced around at the kids playing basketball, and others heading to grab a late breakfast/early lunch from the food carts that were parked nearby. Grant headed for the apartment building when he stopped and watched as Elijah Ryder headed out of the building.
Elijah stopped down the street and went to light a cigarette. Perfect timing.
“Elijah Ryder,” he called out and took a step forward.
Elijah turned his head. His mouth dropped and then his cigarette fell out. “Oh fuck,” Elijah shouted and took off in a run.
“Crap.” Grant chased Elijah, calling for backup. “Ryder, stop!” Grant was getting too old for this. How many times had he chased this kid over the years?
Ryder pushed through pedestrians and kept at a much faster pace. Grant weaved his way, yelling for people to get out of the way, “Police. Out of the way!”
Grant chased Ryder until Ryder pinned himself into a corner after taking a wrong turn into an alley. He tried climbing up and over the gate, but Grant pulled him off. He took out his handcuffs and began citing Elijah’s rights.
“Elijah Ryder, you are under arrest.”
“Fuck you. I didn’t do nothing. This is some fucking racist bullshit.”
“Racist, my ass. If you were so innocent then why did you run? Hmm?”
“Because you always arresting me, popo.”
Grant watched as a cruiser pulled up and grinned as he lifted Elijah up off the ground and handed his now detained suspect to the beat cop. “Take him downtown.”
Grant walked back the couple of blocks and headed to the station himself. He checked in with his Captain to see if his search warrant came in, and to update him on the case. When he got the warrant he grabbed the rest of the evidence and headed down to pick up Ryder and interrogate him.
He found Elijah detained in one of the holding cells. He was not happy. Well, that made two of them. This was the kid that had kept him up for a month, had him miss family time with his only daughter, and he was the kid that had been giving Grant and the rest of the San Myshuno Police Department the biggest headache over the years. It was time for him to learn what hard-time really meant.
Grant pulled Elijah out of the holding cell and escorted him to the interrogation room. “Sit down,” he ordered.
Elijah tossed him a glare but sat. “This is bullshit.”
“No, this is bullshit.” Grant tossed down the files he had been carrying and scattered all the surveillance photos of the armed robberies. “Know anything about this?”
“That ain’t me.” He didn’t even look at the photos.
Grant got into Elijah’s face. “Cut the act, Ryder. This is you, and you know it’s you. Tell me everything. Now. And don’t lie to me.”
“I ain’t lying.”
Grant spread out his hands at all the evidence staring at Ryder in the face. “See this. I don’t need your confession, Ryder.”
“I got you for five armed robberies. I have an eye witness stating that you pulled a gun on her. I have you on camera in crystal clear viewing here.” Grant pushed the photo closer to Elijah that had come from the last robbery.
“That could be fucking anyone, and you know it. You got nothing.”
“I have a search warrant for your residence. Do you know what we’re going to find there? I can take a bet we’ll find even more evidence to tie you to the string of robberies that’s been plaguing our city. Now, do yourself a favor and help yourself out. Confess, and I might be able to get you a good plea deal. You don’t, I’ll lock you up so tight you won’t be seeing the outside of the prison walls until you’re so old, you won’t even know what freedom even means.”
Elijah stared at the photos, and looked back up to Grant. “How much time we talking about?”
“Twenty, maybe, with the possibility of parole if you don’t fuck up inside.”
Elijah leaned back. “Alright, I’ll admit it. Maybe…if you get me that deal in writing.”
Grant grinned. Good. It was easier if they cooperate and plead out. He liked it that way. It was less taxing on the whole system when someone plead out and did their time silently. Grant stacked up his papers and gave Elijah a nod. “I’ll see what I can do.”
* * * *